Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healthy Change #5: Examine Your Cookware

Last year we stopped using our 10 year old set of scratched, Teflon coated T-Fal cookware and switched to stainless steel.  In hindsight, after learning the risks, we should have done that 8 years earlier (Teflon cookware should be replaced every 2 to 3 years).  I also pulled out a cast iron skillet that I'd never used, and for Christmas this year I got a new 5 quart porcelain covered casserole that I can put on the stove top or in the oven. I loved it!

Cookware is expensive.  There are also so many types and brands that it's almost over-whelming to shop for it.  And, how do you pick the safest?  Here's are a few reasons as to why I selected the types that I did.

Cast Iron is considered one of the safest, and if taken care of, will last forever. I have one skillet and now my new dutch oven (which I have to admit, I haven't used yet).  Both are very heavy and storing them is little more challenging.  I haven't found cleaning my skillet to be a big issue like some suggest.  I also haven't spent a lot of time seasoning it (if any).  I've used the skillet to make pancakes, but found myself using more butter to keep them from sticking.  Nor were they as "pretty" as the pancakes on my non-stick pan. But, bottom line, I like knowing that if my family ingest any iron residue from the pan it's considered a healthy food additive.  The enamel/porcelain coated iron has also been found to be very safe, stain and scratch resistant and does not pick up food odors.  And, like the one I got for Christmas (pictured) the enamel comes in lots of fabulous colors.

Stainless Steel is also a safe alternative. I've cooked with it for a year now, and have only had an occasional food sticking problem.  Not all stainless steel cookware is created equal.  For budget reasons, we stuck to a mid-priced line.  I might suggest staying away from the really inexpensive pieces as the quality of steel is not as good.  Stainless steel is made up of several types of metals including nickel and chromium which can be absorbed by food and ingested if the bottom of the pan is mistreated with scouring brushes and ill-suited cooking utensils.

Anodized Aluminum is being utilized for a lot of pots and pans.  I'm still shying away from anything but an occasional cookie sheet or cake pan.  The anodizing process seals the aluminum making it harder, more durable and more scratch-resistant.  However, as long as aluminum is still linked to Alzheimer's Disease, I'm shying away from using it for the majority of my cooking.  There is less of a risk using anodized aluminum for baking when the food you are cooking is non-acidic.

So, I'm suggesting that you take a look at your cookware.  Determine if it's in bad need of replacement.  Do your research and even pick up just one or two pieces at a time as your budget allows.  But, get rid of your old, scratched Teflon coated pans.

There are still 5 more days to enter my give-away!  You can enter once daily.

Here are a few additional resources:
http://www.environmentalhealth.ca/greatchefs.htm
http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/pdf/hgic3864.pdf

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I am enjoying this series - so far I can't - 1) Drink the milk, 2) I have eaten enough popcorn to keep Orville in business, that is bad, and I have been cooking it all wrong besides, 3) Natural food, which we go out of our way to buy is not really natural, 4) Just because it tastes like chicken, does not mean it is good for you, and now 5) it looks like Granny was right all along, cooking in an iron skillet on a wood stove is the way to go.
Any good news in 6 - 10?
Encouraged that Thin Mints are good for me.
Being healthy and living a healthy life style in this day and age is more difficult than it should be.
Love to have the blender, we make fruit smoothies from frozen fruit and add blueberries that we picked to spice them up. Before bedtime, put the frozen fruit in the mixer cup in the refrigerator, first thing in the morning the fruit will be thawed and we blend. Presto. Fruit smoothie, good for all sorts of things.

Julie said...

I, too have really learned tons from your series so far! Don't know if I really want to know 6-10 either because I haven't done so well so far!! I need new pots and pans for my birthday now!!

Mom with a Mission said...

Sorry guys. Wish I was bringing better news. Trying to put a positive spin on it, I can say that all in all it hasn't been that hard to make the changes, there are plenty of food options including fast meals and by shopping smart I haven't broken the bank.

Maybe I should start each post by telling a joke to lighten it up a little! It is pretty disturbing news! :) I've had months to assimilate it. I'm dropping it on you guys in less than 2 weeks.

kelly said...

None of these cookware are safe unfortunately. I too have thrown away my Teflon.